Monday, March 26, 2012

Knew Concepts Fret Saws

This saw has been the subject of much discussion recently.  I purchased one a month ago to make the vertical cuts for the hinges on Roubo bookstands.  I have a good coping saw, but the pins on the blades require an unsightly hole for interior cuts.  I also wanted to use it for wasting dovetails as I have found the coping saw to be unsatisfactory for this purpose.

This saw is very expensive, approximately five times the cost of a standard fretsaw.  I have come to the view that you should pay what you have to for an excellent tool or do without, but I am also of the view that there is a point beyond which spending more doesn't result in a tool that works much better.  So, my question was whether the Knew Concepts fretsaw is a good value.  I find that it is.

There are four main advantages of this saw as far as I am concerned.  The rigidity of the frame is obvious and quite noticeable, particularly since it feels virtually weightless.  This translates directly into blade rigidity.  The quick release tensioning mechanism and it's adjustment wheel allow you to quickly and repeatably tension the blade.  The blade holders hold well and work quickly.  I found that the first two features mean a rigid blade that translates to precise cuts.  The last two features mean that if you need to remove and reinstall the blade repeatedly for multiple interior cuts, you can do so quickly.

Several observations may be helpful to you.  One criticism I read is that it doesn't cut thicker stock well, 4/4 for example.  Lee, the developer, will tell you that this is a function of the blade you choose.  I took his advice and purchased Pegas SK-7 blades, a 7 tpi skip tooth pattern.  They cut well.  I have been able to quickly saw out dovetail waste very close to the line.

The frame is so rigid and the tensioning mechanism so effective that I was concerned about overdoing it.  Although I suspect that the blade would break before the frame was damaged, I decided to ask Lee anyway.  Lee responded:
"When you cause the back spine to get kinda' have gone too far:-)  You should get a nice clear "ping" when you use your finger nail to "twang" it. Beyond that, it is a matter of preference, and whether you can hew the line as you are sawing. I cannot be more specific, as it varies depending upon your blade choice."

The only other criticism I have seen is that the handle is poor in appearance.  It is.  It's unsanded and unfinished.  Lee responded (on Woodnet) as follows:
"First of all, the handle that I chose was not designed to be "purty". It, like all of the products that I make are designed for function, and the plain waxed handle is an excellent choice for those that use the saw for hours at a time. It does not slip around in your hand, and absorbs sweat.  However, there has been enough gripes about the handle that I had a new handle commissioned that will replace both the red handle and the plain waxed one."

There are replacement handles available but they are expensive.  I had intended to sand and finish mine, but now I think I will leave it alone.  If this bothers you, you may want to inquire about making sure you get one of the new handles.

I highly recommend this saw and think it is worth the money.


  1. How about a post on your tool chest? (came to your blog after seeing your post on woodnet about your tool chest -- I was interested in seeing how you'd arranged the interior)

  2. Hello, I read this post today and I want to thank you for sharing these info. Keep writing :)